Thinking About the History of the Digital Era at the Society for the History of Technology

Philadelphia was the location on the weekend of October 26-29 for the annual meeting of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT). For the conference, Professor Asif Siddiqi organized a panel titled “Democratizing the Technologies of Pop Music: Songs in the Key of Gender, Fandom and Digital Sampling.” The panel forms the basis for a new book project by Professor Siddiqi, a collection of essays provisionally titled One Track Mind. The book will bring together academics and cultural critics to talk about one single song of their choosing as a way to open up a broader conversation about a particular historical moment in 20th century popular cultures. Professor Siddiqi presented a paper on the song “Paper Planes” by the British hip pop/global pop artist M.I.A.

Also presenting on the panel was Dr. Louie Dean Valencia-García (PhD Fordham 2016). Dr. Valencia-García, now a tenure-track faculty member in digital history at his undergrad alma mater, Texas State University, presented on the song “MMMBop” by the pop band Hanson. The paper analyzed how young people created online fan communities in the 1990s, centered around the teenage band Hanson. Dr. Valencia-García reports that,

“it was a fun panel and a good project for all of us to come together on, and stretch the boundaries of my typical research interests. As my new position is in digital history, I’m trying to not just think about how historians can use digital tools, but how we can start to think about the history of the digital era.”

The panel provided an opportunity for contributors to bounce ideas off each other, and get feedback from the audience. It also was a great opportunity for Dr. Valencia- García to catch up with Fordham colleagues, as Dr. Grace Shen, Director of Graduate Studies, was in attendance.

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